Toko Playcentre’s outdoor surfacing was dull, dangerous and uninviting. Find out how they transformed the space into one with endless opportunities for imaginative play with Numat.
As well as being a nightmare of a surface to maintain, the large play area took up most of the centre’s outdoor area, and because it was such an unappealing surface to play on, the children were reluctant to use it.
Property Manager, Kate Kowalewski, was keen to address the issues. She wanted to make the outdoor area usable and appealing for the children. “We wanted an attractive and inviting area that made use of the dead space we had. We wanted it to be fun, challenging and educational,” says Kate.
As well as being fun, challenging and educational, it was important to Kate that the surface was durable and conformed to the New Zealand playground safety standards. “We needed the space to be safe, easy care and something that would last us for generations to come.”
Kate Kowalewski, Manager Toko Playcentre
To achieve all these aims, the centre had tried digging out the old bark and replacing it. Unfortunately, this didn’t work as the poisonous plants soon grew back again and the new bark was still damp and uninviting, making it no better than the previous surface.
Fed up with the situation, Kate ran a Google search for playground surfacing options and found Numat. After an initial site visit from Numat surfacing consultant, Jake Hoyle, Kate knew the company understood what she was looking for. After seeing the concepts Numat prepared for her, she decided to get Numat on the job.
“After the first meeting, I knew Jake could see my vision,” says Kate. “The concept plan was exactly what I envisioned.”
Taking a creative approach to the surface design, Numat were able to introduce some exciting new features. A bike track was installed around the outside of the playground to give the children a place to ride their bikes away from the busy fort area. The track was constructed of soft fall rubber and marked out with soft fall centre lines to provide the perfect practice ground for future road users. The soft fall surface means there will be no scraped hands or knees when inevitable falls happen.
Around the fort area, a soft fall turf was installed with built-in elements such as stepping stones and a river running under the playground’s swing bridge. These fun features enhance imaginative play and encourage physical activity from the children.
A large free-play area made of soft fall rubber was installed adjacent the playground to provide a space for games and moveable play objects.
During the installation phase of the project, Kate was impressed by Numat’s professionalism and eagerness to help. “Kane and Ricky were great at answering all our questions and allowed us to make a last-minute design change to ensure we loved every aspect of the project.”
One of Kate’s favourite aspects of the new surface has been the improved flow in the play area. Kate and her team say the new playground surfacing has completely transformed the centre. Even areas that were seldom used in the past have become places of play.
“It looks much tidier and because the edging from the bark has been removed, it creates a better flow from the other areas of our centre. Every inch of our new area is productive and played on now. Even our very back corner where some of our members had never once ventured before the matting was laid!”
When asked if the new playground surfacing met her expectations, Kate replies, “Our experience and the product we have been given were beyond our expectations. It was a fantastic process from start to finish and we are so proud of what we have added to our centre. Numat were given a tight timeframe to have the whole project completed and they made us feel confident that it was going to come together in time.”
Overall, the play area has been transformed from a dull, dangerous and uninviting area to a space that has endless imaginative play opportunities. It’s a transformation that brings peace of mind to the centre’s staff in the knowledge that the children can play, learn and explore in complete safety.
Kate says, “We no longer have to worry about bark being misplaced or compacted down and compromising our fall safety. We can rest easy knowing that if our children fall from any part of our playground that they are landing on the best safety surface possible.”
Kate and her team realised they needed to look beyond the playcentre’s immediate community for help if they were ever going to reach their goal of replacing the old bark playground with a tidy, new surface.
Kate applied to two funding societies – Taranaki Electricity Trust and TSB Community Trust.
With a $20,000 grant from Taranaki Electricity Trust, a $30,000 grant from TSB Community Trust, and some savings and funding from the Ministry of Education, Toko Playcentre was able to transform the playspace into a safe, exciting, and inviting place of play.